From the Trenches: A Librarian’s Tale

In response to the NY times article on the “new” librarian:The interesting thing about this article — apart from the sinking feeling that, with my would-be profession now identified as a trend in the New York Times, it’s only a matter of time before librarianship will be officially “over” — is how it closely it reflects my most idealized self-image: smart, adorable, glasses-wearing twenty-to-thirtysomethings with artistic aspirations — mostly living in Greenpoint, even! Were they all born in upstate New York, too? Maybe own several They Might Be Giants t-shirts?

In my experience, there is anecdotal truth to this article (beyond the fact that the librarians profiled presumably do exist): a couple of my good friends are librarians (though both of them live in Boston, not New York), and I’ve come across a fair number of young, hip, socially-conscious types during my part-time librarian schooling at Queens College.

But just as many — really, if I’m being honest, far more — of my classmates fit the librarian stereotype, well, if not exactly to a “t,” certainly somewhere around that vicinity of the alphabet: Socially awkward, anxious, a little square. I will agree that the “shush”ing stereotype appears to be wholly untrue, inasmuch as I’ve yet to take a library class without several members willing to speak out and ask extraneous or obvious questions.

Don’t get me wrong; my classmates are generally good-hearted and sometimes interesting people. And I can see traces of a hip-young-librarian movement, albeit without quite the fashion-trend vivacity depicted in the Times (most library students I know are more concerned about getting those jobs so idyllically described in the article than going to hipster bars to dance trade books). Maybe the young librarian force is more pronounced at private grad schools, which might explain why I felt more than a little agist and classist when I read the Times article and found myself thinking, “if only.”

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